Graffiti artist Swift Elegwa painting the retired railway car now the studio of BSQ
EVIDENCE OF NAIROBI'S EXPANDING ART SPACES
By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 10 April 2018)
Best evidence that the Kenyan art scene is expanding exponentially are the new spaces emerging and quickly getting filled with artworks by both Kenyan and international artists.
Lisa Milroy's 'Off the rack' object painting at One Off's new space, converted from the stables
The incentive coming from the artists is a desire for exposure of their work which generates interest. The visibility then heightens artists’ profiles and often leads to sales to the benefit of both the artists and curators as well as to the collectors.
One clear-cut example of the expanding arts scene is at One Off Gallery where Carol Lees just transformed her stables into an elegant and spacious gallery extension to The Loft where she’s currently exhibiting 12 of her favorite Kenyan artists. They include Anthony Okello, Beatrice Wanjiku, Ehoodi Kichapi, Florence Wangui, Harrison Mburu, James Mbuthia, Olivia Pendergast, Peter Ngugi, Peterson Kamwathi, Richard Kimathi, Timothy Brooke and Xavier Verhoest.
One Off’s former stable features the works of Canadian artist Lisa Milroy who plays with textiles, textures, paints and an engaging style of interactive art that offers an excellent way to inaugurate One Off’s new space.
Another inventive new art space is at the old Kenya Railways train yard where BSQ, the trio of amazing graffiti artists, has just taken over an old train car and transformed it into a studio that’s already become an interactive site where other graffiti artists like Swift Elegwa were making their artistic mark on the car on the studio’s open day last weekend.
BSQ was previously based at the Railways, with Patrick Mukabi at Dust Depo Studio. But the troika (Bebetu, KayMist and Msale) are so highly energized they needed a space of their own.
Then in a private home in Karen, Beta-Art founder Gloria Barasa organized a Pop-up exhibition featuring nearly a dozen Kenyan artists, including Patrick Mukabi, Elias Mong’ora, Waweru Gichuhi and Emmaus Kimani. It was arranged on short notice and just for one day last weekend, but Gloria plans to hold more pop-up shows in future.
Lord Errol’s Restaurant is also intent, thanks to Lisa Christoffersen, on holding regular exhibitions at the Runda eatery. Currently, Lisa’s curated an exhibition of artworks by Drishti Chawla which will run until month’s end.
Norfolk Hotel’s new management is also keen to mount art exhibitions comparable to the one they held last month of artworks by Coster Ojwang, curated by William Ngwiga’s Little Art Gallery.
Meanwhile, Kuona Artists Alliance is now hosting an open house once a month on Saturdays when most of the artists will be on hand to show their works. There will be food, music and drinks to celebrate the artists’ triumph over months of tribulations.
Akiiki with paintings by Tindi, himself and Anwar Sadat at Village Market
Village Market currently has a marvelous exhibition of “African Artistic Tales’ created by Six Ugandan artists, including Akiiki, Anwar, Kasagga, Lukwago, Tindi and Sebandeke. Offering a rainbow array of colorful works that are diverse in style, subject matter and sensibility, each of the six brought paintings from Kampala to share locally.
(L-R) Tindi, Lukwago, Kasagga, Sebankeke and Akiiki at Village Market
At the British Institute of East Africa, the latest series of ingenious junk art by Evans Ngure entitled ‘Irreplaceable’ is on display through May 4th. Evans has created an array of endangered species, from butterflies and owls to peacocks and fish using everything from spare parts from cars, computers and TVs to buttons, keys, imported leather and assorted gadgetry.
The other solo show that’s running now is Tabitha wa Thuku’s at the Banana Hill Art Gallery.
The one visiting artist who’s got so much artwork to show that Goethe Institute had to book it into both the GoDown Art Gallery and Circle Art Gallery is Wolfgang Tillmans.
The London-based German photographer is well-known all over Europe, but he’s currently on a nine-city African tour. The Circle Art segment of his ‘Fragile’ exhibition opened last Thursday week with a talk by the artist, anchored by Kenyan photographer James Muriuki. The GoDown opening was this past Wednesday followed by two more artist’s talks yesterday.
Henry 'Mzili' Mujunga's 'gender bending' 'History of Gender' at Goethe Institute
Finally, one reason Tillmans couldn’t exhibit at the Goethe is because it was booked in advance by Nyambura Waruinge for her ‘Indulgence’ exhibition. Inspired by a previous show held in Uganda entitled ‘Eroticism and Intimacy’, ‘Indulgence’ also artistically explores issues of sexuality, gender and desire, featuring multimedia works by Neo Musingi, James Muriuki, Yaye Kassamali, Stacey Gillian Abe and Henry Mzili Mujunga.
This weekend, Gravitart presents art by eleven Kenyans entitled ‘Conflicting the Narrative’ at Kobo Trust on Friday. On Saturday, Adrian Nduma’s latest works will feature at Polka dot Gallery and The Attic will open a show by Michael Musyoka and Lincoln Mwangi 21st April.